The Alabama-West Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church ratified eight local church disaffiliations at its special-called session held on Sunday, November 12, 2023. This special session was called by Bishop David Graves, resident bishop, in accordance with ¶603.5 of the 2016 Book of Discipline
. Two other special-called session were previously held on November 12, 2022, and May 7, 2023. The following churches were ratified for disaffiliation:
Marietta UMC, Demopolis District
Oak Grove UMC (2325), Demopolis District
Salem UMC, Marianna-Panama City District
Christ UMC, Mobile District
Macedonia UMC, Montgomery-Opelika District
Benton UMC, Montgomery-Prattville District
Hayneville UMC, Montgomery-Prattville District
Lowndesboro UMC, Montgomery-Prattville District
These eight churches properly fulfilled the obligations outlined in paragraph 2553 of the Book of Discipline
and met the guidelines set forth by the Alabama-West Florida Conference Trustees.
As of November 12, 2023, the majority of churches in the Alabama-West Florida Conference have chosen to remain United Methodist. 311 churches continue to faithfully operate in the United Methodist connectional system and remain a part of the Alabama-West Florida Conference and the United Methodist Church. As of November 6, 2023, 78% of United States congregations remain in the United Methodist Church since 2019.
“Today is another somber day in the life of the Alabama-West Florida Conference,” stated Bishop David Graves. “We are saddened to say farewell to the eight churches disaffiliating from the United Methodist Church and wish them the best in ministry. We pray for these churches as they navigate ministry in a new season. I especially want to thank those churches who have decided to remain United Methodist and those who heard my call to refrain from holding discussions around leaving the denomination until we have more information. I appreciate your faithfulness to your call and covenant all while leading your churches in a most difficult season.”
The following statistics represent the eight churches disaffiliating from the Alabama-West Florida Conference and the United Methodist Church.
-2.51% of the churches in the Alabama-West Florida Conference.
-8% of the membership of the Alabama-West Florida Conference.
-6.52% of the reported in-person worship attendance of the Alabama-West Florida Conference.
-One out of eight Alabama-West Florida Conference churches with membership over 1000.
- While an average of 19.45% of church membership regularly attend worship at these eight churches, on average only 16% of membership was represented at the vote to decide the future of their church.
In June of 2022 at the regularly scheduled annual conference, five churches disaffiliated and at the November 2022 special session 35 disaffiliated. In May of 2023 193 churches disaffiliated bringing the total to 241. No local church disaffiliations will be considered at the upcoming regularly scheduled June annual conference session in Montgomery.
The conference announced in the spring that eleven new church starts/faith communities were being formed under the direction of Rev. Jean Tippit. “I am honored to serve in this new role in addition to my current appointment,” stated Rev. Jean Tippit, new director. “This new ministry will be life giving to so many in our conference and I look forward to seeing the fruit of this labor. We will be a stronger conference with the ability to make more disciples by making this work a priority. I am excited to see God work through this team.” An additional five new ministry strategy cultivators were announced. This team will collectively help cultivate new churches, revitalize existing churches and assist with starting the healing process.
Those new churches/faith communities are as follows.
-ARK New Church Start
-DeFuniak Springs New Church Start
-Destin/Niceville New Church Start
-Grand Ridge New Church Start
-Magnolia UMC, Orange Beach and Gulf Shores, AL area
-Foundry UMC, Opelika, AL
-Open Door United Methodist Church, Pace, FL
-Pike Road New Church Start
-Grace UMC, Prattville, AL
-Restoration United Methodist Church, Cottondale, FL
-Troy New Church Start
If you are a member of a disaffiliating church and wish to remain United Methodist, please complete this online form
to move your membership to the general church role or visit a nearby United Methodist Church.
“This has been a labor-intensive and emotional process for our cabinet and staff,” continued Bishop Graves. “In the most difficult of times I see so many signs of hope and renewal. We are committed to focusing on life-giving and life-changing ministry. I’m excited to see the Kingdom work this conference and connection will accomplish with God’s guidance.”
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